Sunday, January 05, 2014

How many times can one guy start over??

Today is a day of writing. Of planning.  It's been a long while since I've set out to write anything of substantial length, so I can't help but wonder if my writing skills have withered away from disuse, or worse, have been reduced to a hodge-podge of broken idioms and mixed metaphors.  Living in a foreign country will do that to you.  I guess that's what this little letter is going to be about.

I've been in Japan for almost a quarter of my life, which happened a lot faster than you might think.  In those seven years, for the sake of communication with non-native speakers, I've had to make a lot of small compromises in my English, both spoken and written.  I've found myself foregoing a lot of natural sentence structures and segues, and breaking my sentences down into their simplest forms.  Grammar becomes fixed in the old subject-verb-object pattern, because God help you if you decide to use the passive voice.  If you think native speakers have a hard time with past participles, imagine what it's like for all those poor non-natives.  Sit-sat-sat, but hit-hit-hit?  Drink-drank-drunk, sink-sank-sunk, but...think-thought-thought?  Madness.  Don't even start on how we use pronouns.  To Japanese listeners, English speakers are probably some of the most sadistic conversationalists, outdone only by the French.  

To communicate with Japanese people, you have to make verbal sacrifices, one at a time, until your vocabulary dries up and your English hardens into the formal, structured, and less nuanced style of someone with almost no personality.  While your words once flowed like a stream, they now are placed carefully, like bricks in a wall, perfectly squared and leveled, ready for the next thought to be laid on top.  Of course, this is wonderful for listeners, but it's terrible for anyone who loves finding that one special word that captures any of the humor, irony, or wit that might be bouncing around in your head.

At the same time, it makes reading "current" English all the more painful. Quickly checking Twitter feeds or Facebook posts will lead you into an avalanche of acronyms, euphemisms and portmanteaus.  If you leave the Internet for more than a week, you might find yourself in dire need of a Google search bar and (lord help us) a dedicated window for  

So, how can native speakers abroad maintain their natural English writing and speaking levels?  The same way you'd maintain any muscle or skill.  You have to exercise, and make sure never to fall into a routine.  This means you're going to have to read from many different sources, from poorly written tweets to literary classics, newspapers to blogs.  Then, write a blog of your own.  You'll need to be listening to more diverse music, and watching movies and TV shows you might have thought were a waste of time.  Yes, reality TV has value to those of us living abroad.  Scripted TV is becoming more and more about witty, snappy dialogue, but no one actually speaks that way, unless they want to be known as an endless source of one-liners.  If you've ever heard a bunch of Americans abroad finally getting together after weeks of isolation, you know that their conversations aren't conversations at all, just a chance to let loose all the cool phrases they came up with when they had no one else to talk to but themselves.  Sad, really.  But, reality TV, while the situations may be scripted, the speaking style is not.  You won't be making any public speeches with that kind of talk, but at least you won't be so surprised when you go home and realize that your friends get by talking about nothing in particular...and are OK with that.  And finally, if you're lucky enough to be in a time zone that sees sunlight at the same time as your home country, call people.  As often as you can.  Your brain needs it.  If you're like me, and everyone you care about back home is asleep when you're're probably still looking for a way around it.

Just remember that your native language is just like any other muscle.  You gotta work out.  You can't rest on the laurels of that one great speech you made at a party, or that ice-cold reply you shot back at a jerk on a message board.  Switch it up, push yourself, and enjoy every form of your mother language.  It'll remind you just how lucky you are to have one.

Sunday, April 07, 2013


If you can, listen to "The New" by Jay Dee/J Dilla while you read this...

Things have changed, considerably. I was once a rare foreigner in the middle of Nowhere, Japan. Children ran from my grizzly, dreadlocked form, but peered at me from the safety of their parents' sides, unsure if I was some beast to be feared or a giant trinket to be collected. English was hard to come by, and anyone who could speak it wanted to get out of town as quickly as possible.

But now, after a grueling interview and what was apparently one of the most stressful months of my life (first time my shoulders were ever stiff), I am now under the employ of the Board of Education of Science City. My fellow English teachers come from 9 other countries, and many are graduates of the Science City University. People only comment on my height (the dreads are gone), and kids no longer run, but smile bash fully. It is a strange world, this Science City. There's technology everywhere. Lots of researchers, doctors and lawyers live here, so their kids are a lot more...serious about their studies. It's amazing what a real future will do for kids' motivation. The teachers seem nicer...which is a big surprise, if you ask me. City folks aren't usually known for their friendliness when compared to the denizens of the countryside. Then again, a lot of these teachers are actually commuting from other places.

But fear not! I still live in Nowhere, Japan. But now, I drive the exhausting 17 miles to work every morning. I know what you Florida folks are thinking, "What is that, 20 minutes? Exhausting? Pfffffft." Well, let me tell you now, that Japanese miles are three times as long as Florida miles. So, I'm driving for about an hour every morning. And evening. I won't complain, though. That is some excellent wind down/study time. And the scenery is really nice. It's more relaxing than I was expecting.

As for my old schools and classes, that'd be where the stress came in. Leaving them was hard, even though I had obviously outgrown them. March was the month of goodbyes. Nearly every foreigner I knew left, and I had to bring most of my extra classes to an end. There were long faces, hugs and tears... Really, tears! Some of my school students were sobbing, but...I think it was for the other teachers, not just me. See, every year there's a kind of surprise ceremony, where the kids suddenly find out which teachers are leaving and which teachers are staying. It's kind of a jerk move, to be honest, and I had to play along. I knew I was leaving way back in February, but everyone said that it was probably best if I didn't tell the students. So when the kids asked me things about the next school year, all I could do was shrug and say, "We'll see!" Ate me up inside. Plus I had to drop that bomb on a class of nice old ladies, and another class of good friends. The timing was never right, and the news got delayed... My heart felt like it was trying to eat itself. March...March was just a hard month. The final week was a marathon of goodbye parties and hangovers. I'll come back and write more about the last six months later... For now, I just want to say that I am here, still trying to figure out just where I am. But, I think I have a better handle on it.

Take care, all.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Back in the Dry Life Again...

Six weeks.  Six weeks of vacation I had.  And what did I do with it?  Nothing, really.  But see, that's everything.  Sometimes I need a chance to just get away from all the people demanding my attention in this country, and trust me...there are a lot of them.  This is a country of social circles.  Most people belong to three, in order of priority: work, friends, family.  And work takes up most of your time.  Friends?  Eh, they come and go.  Family?  Not such a big deal until new years or "Obon".  I made the mistake of taking on too much work, and mixing work with friends, and allowing friends to name themselves as family.  So, instead of three separate circles, I'm sitting here with a big ol' web of social responsibility.  Know what that means?  That means pain, that's what that means.

So, for six weeks, I disappear.  No one can talk to me easily, and they'd better not try to come to my apartment and "drop by for a visit".  So, those six weeks of nothing are heaven for me.  I can gather my thoughts, and take a nice deep breath before the next round of crazinesss starts up.  

But now, I'm back in the land of society...  And I'm not so sure that I'm ready.  Buuuuuut...I'll try not to hurt anyone.  Try.


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Bird's Eye View

Back at work, and I'm starting to worry about Odd Sensei.  She's been getting her schedules mixed up, and I think Princi-Pal is noticing.  He's not one to take screw ups lightly.  Actually, I think the heat is putting everyone on edge.  I get happier in warm weather, but I've noticed that every year, the teachers and students seem agitated until cooler weather returns.  So, maybe Princi-Pal is a little prickly right now.  

The kids...well, some of them seem genuinely surprised that I expect them to follow certain rules.  Ya know, stay in your seat, don't do other homework in class, don't talk while the teacher is talking, always bring the necessary materials to class, and always focus on the task at hand.  So, I end up bring the bad guy.  Reading novels in class?  Come on, man, I shouldn't have to enforce a rule like that.  But, I'm the only one who sees it.

Which brings me to another observation of mine.  Japanese people don't see anything unless it's right in front of them.  Trust me, if there's any easier group of people to sneak up on, I can't imagine them still being alive.  I could be standing right next to a kid for a minute, and they won't notice me until they turn their head. And then they nearly jump out of their skin.  This is why I make as much noise as I can when I move, especially around old people.  I will knock down an entire aisle of soup cans just to make sure I don't give some little old lady a heart attack.

So when I'm the only person who can see that half the students are sleeping, and the other half are playing with their calculators, talking to the person behind them, drawing on their desks or reading some novel with a scantily clad anime girl on the doesn't surprise me anymore.  I even tell the kids, "I'm tall.  I can see EVERYTHING.". But...they still try to get away with it.  In, like...the lamest ways possible, too.  If you're gonna hide a comic book inside your textbook, don't hold your textbook up like you're trying to hide your face.  And if you're gonna talk in class, learn to whisper.  Or pass notes, or something.  I think the blatant ineptitude is what frustrates me most!  But it does make me wonder...was I just as obvious as a kid?  Did the teachers know exactly what we were doing and just let it be?  Maybe that's what I've gotta learn to do?  Or is that just a sign of a teacher who has given up?  Maybe I'm just trying too hard...  But I'll tell you one thing:  teachers here give up way too quickly, and it creates kids who think no one cares what they do.  And I'm sorry, but I genuinely want these kids to learn how to focus.  Study skills are never taught here, and it shows.  Eh...whatever.  I'll keep doing my thing.

Today's lunch was Japanese...but chock full of salt.  We had shrimp dumplings, bean sprout salad, rice, milk, and a soy-sauce based soup with fried tofu, konnyaku, pork, carrots and cabbage in it.  Take a look!

I never drink the broth, man.  As a kid, I loved salt, but now I'm really nervous around the stuff.  Even Princi-Pal was like, "What were they thinking?  We're Japanese!  We like mild flavors!  Isn't that right, J?"

Darn right, sir.  Darn right,


Tuesday, May 08, 2012

The burden of being blessed with wonderful friends and family

Here I sit at my desk in Plum Valley JHS with nothing to do.  I've finished my classes for the day, some good, some bad, and now I'm just...killing time.

Today's lunch was carb-tastic.  Pan-fried noodles (yakisoba), a potato-cheese croquette, mayonnaise burdock salad, bread and milk.  They must be trying to kill me...

But let's move beyond work.

I do believe I've lost most of my time for introspection, which is a very sad thing, but recently, I stumbled upon something that has been stressing me out to no end.  I'm a person with a pretty good memory.  It completely bails on me from time to time, but I tend to hold on to a lot of information.  One of the worst applications of this is debts owed.  See...I don't really like when people help me, because I will always remember it as something I must repay.  And in Japan, people help you all the time.  I've got people all over this country to whom I owe a lot...and it kills me.  I probably don't have to remember it all, but I just can't let it go.  Of course these people we're kind to me because they wanted to be kind to me, and not because they wanted anything in return, but...I can't just let it end like that.  I've even got people in America who I feel like I owe.  Every little meal, every bit of help they gave me just makes it all heavier.  And yes, of course, I feel like I need to repay my parents for bailing me out one particularly painful year, and for all those things they did that I took for granted.  Any wrong doing, any disrespect, any unintentional bullying...all these things weigh on my conscience pretty heavily.  And the worst part of it all...that heaviness actually makes me pull away from people.  Like, if you do me a huge favor, I honestly can't look you in the face until I can pay it back properly.  I can barely pick up the phone to speak to you, and even e-mails will start to dwindle.

So, I have two choices,  I can either find a way to somehow mentally set myself free from debts I'm pretty sure no one expects me to repay, or I can go out, make the most of myself, and use that heaviness for more momentum to push forward, and attain the means to repay all those people.  Actually, there is a third choice of "pay it forward"...

Let's aim for #2, yeah?  Yeah,  that sounds good.  With a healthy mix of #3.  K?  K.


Skinny Little Devils


Nothing major.  But I gotta say, I'm noticing a certain...coldness in The New Girl.  Like, she's smiling when she looks at you, or when she needs help, but if you watch her out of the corner of your eye, all that disappears.  And what's left is...a bit of a scowl.  Of course, I might just be imagining things.  I'm usually very wary of conventionally attractive females of all ages.  Ah, trauma...still got me in your grips, I see.

Here's lunch for that day:

In other news, I was finally able to return to teaching one of my personal classes after school.  This Tuesday one is fun; my students are a woman, her daughter who is my age, and an old guy who is just awesome.  I think he's secretly Japan's version of James Bond, but...I'm afraid that if I learn too much about him, he'll have to kill me.  Unfortunately, he couldn't come today.  But I still had the ladies, and they are a funny duo.  After teaching them about chickenpox, vaccinations and tornadoes, we somehow got on the topic of Japanese men, specifically the current generation of young men. The ladies were of the opinion that men were getting far too thin these days, and it was making them feel...creeped out.  Men should have some muscle, they said, but not too much.  Just enough to make them look like men, not girls.  I laughed, and they went on to say that they'd like to see more men with six-pack abs.  These ladies are definitely not like other women in Japan.

The current trend is long hair, tight pants, no muscle.  This is for dudes, mind you,  we're entering and age where Japanese men are prettier than the women, and that's just how the ladies want it.  Not that they'd ever date such dudes, but they'd like to see men like that walking around.  I'm not talking metrosexuals, or men who keep themselves well groomed.  I mean men who probably couldn't lift their own child if they had one.  I understand that Japan has always had a different view of manliness than the West, but those guys still were tough.  They endured.  Stamina, perseverance and patience were the qualities of the old Japanese man.  Now?  I dunno what's going on, but pants are getting unbelievably tight, and that spells disaster for me.  Also the future of Japan.  I mean...I'm seeing 40-year-old men like this.and 40 is pretty darned grown in Japan.  Imagine an emo-uncle.  Yeah.  Like that.

My prediction?  The future Japan will be a bunch of skinny dudes, skinny girls, cigarettes and no kids.  Foreigners will have taken all the others far away.

The ladies agree with my prediction.  We gotta bring back the muscle in this country.  I need to take one dude and one chick and put them on a special workout program where they actually eat, get them both looking decent and then post pictures.  Then I can release a DVD.  And then...profit.

I've found my calling.



Well...these four days were a bit of a bust.  It rained like crazy, which meant rice planting was really slowed down.  Golden Week, this long string of vacation days, is when most farm folks do their rice planting.  It's an all day process, and if it looks like it might rain, they just can't do it for fear of...something.  I really don't know how it all works.  All I know is, my girlfriend's family needs to do it, and she helps, and with all the delays and uncertainty, I barely got to see her all weekend.  But, hey, I like rain, so I was unusually calm.  And I got a chance to regain a bit of my strength.

I can't say that for some of the other people in my area, because something very strange occurred on Sunday.  A tornado dropped in the town next to me.  I should have known something weird was coming when the hail started falling.  We get hail maybe once a year around these parts, but this stuff was pretty big.  Looked like popcorn was falling...but it sounded like marbles.  I felt sorry for any poor sound trapped out there.  Shortly after that, my girlfriend sent me the news: a tornado suddenly formed over the northern part of the big city south of me.  Now, being a Floridian, I wasn't really surprised by it.  I mean...I'm used to the sky trying to kill me. But then I thought about where I am.  The country of soft houses.  Remember a while back when I talked about how a storm had my little apartment creaking?  Imagine what an F2 tornado could do to a neighborhood of similarly built houses. destroyed so much.  Even killed a kid.  This country just can't get a break from weird occurrences...

I went back to school the next day and found that no one else had really reacted either.  It was more of a, "Eh...stuff happens" kinda feel.  Actually, that's exactly how it was after the earthquake.  Tough folks.

Meanwhile, at Plum Valley, we seem to be settling in.  The New Girl is finding her stride, Gyro is struggling with 5 classes a day, but he seems to be accepting his fate, and Odd Sensei is pushing through her troubles here and at home.  The one problem is that one particularly loud and outspoken student seems to have a problem with The Other Girl.  Maybe he's just a jerk, but he's been vocalizing his disgust with her just a little too openly.  I'm a bit unsure how to handle this, because I want to help, but I also know that she's gonna face crap like this all through her career, so she's gotta learn.  Even so, if that kid steps too far...I might have to knock him down.  Verbally.  What?  I'm not gonna deck my student!

Here's lunch for today...

Very Japanese.  We got fish, boiled spinach in sesame marinade, rice, milk, and a soup with tofu, carrots, potatoes konnyaku and pork.

I think my lack of energy is shortening these blog entries...


Short, but...well, short.

Wednesday, Wednesday.

This is actually the las day of school for this week.  That's a very good thing, considering how weak I am these days.  I'm not saying I'm wobbly and faint-prone, but I ain't at my best, that's for darn sure.  And wouldn't ya know it, River Blossom JHS decides to give me classes for five out of six possible periods today.  But, I gotta say, they may work me harder, but they certainly care more about my well-being here.  Maybe I've said that before...  I can never be sure anymore.

Anyway, there's a lady who sits directly across from my desk, and she has apparently adopted me as her son, as her own son done up and r-u-n-n-o-f-t to Austrailia for to slake the wanderlust.  This woman gives me snacks all day.  Literally.  And she's always talking about how cute I am.  Yeah, yeah, I hear your surprised laughter.  I'll have you know that many old women here consider me cu--  Stop laughing!  Also, the principal always give me drinks, alcoholic and non.  

But, man...I guess nothing's really started happening at this school.  Meh.

On the bright side, I get four days off starting tomorrow!

Also, here's lunch!

That is ramen, a fried spring roll, something they call "colorful salad", milk and jello (pineapple soda flavored).

Later, people.


Monday, April 30, 2012

I Was Wrong About the Jacket

So, I've been gone for over a week.  I know what you're all saying.  "Pfffft...this is nothing new.  You disappeared for like...four years.". I don't deny it. I have a very bad record when it comes to my blog. Not quite the Chatty Cathy that I used to be.  But this time, I have a real, legitimate excuse.  One that will shock and amaze!  Confuse!  Confound!  Contort and convolute!  I'll just sum it up with one word:


...OK, maybe not really leprosy.  And leprosy isn't something you should joke about.  Back in the day, Biblical folk had a hard time with that little number.  So, no.  Not leprosy.  But I did have its modern-day equivalent:

Chicken pox.

Yeah.  See?  Shocking, right?  I mean, if I were a six-year-old kid, everyone would just be like, "Aww...well don't scratch too much, OK?". But people, I'm 29.  I'm what most people would consider an adult.  Most people would be dead wrong, but, still...I'm "grown"!  I'm not supposed to be coming down with chickenpox, mumps, measles, rubella or any of those other diseases we associate with childhood traumas/staying home from school for a week of awesome.  ...I did get to stay home from school for a week of awesome, but that's not the point!  Grown "men" do not get chickenpox! We walk that off, like a punch to the gut or a dislocated shoulder, or a knife to the eye. A few itchy bumps? Please.  

The thing they don't tell you is that chickenpox ups its game for adults.  If kidly pox is a sucker punch, grown pox is like getting sniped.  Probably because adults are just punks with way too many responsibilities.  Seems to hit us harder.  All I know is, on Friday, I left school with a backache, a neck ache and an itchy throat.  Actually, that's not how it started!  On Thursday morning, I was taking a shower, and brushed my hand against a bump on my chest.  It hurt a little, because I broke it open.  At the time, I just thought I'd broken open a very small scratch I'd somehow acquired in one of my wrestling matches with my kids.  So I paid it no mind.  The next morning, I hit a second bump on my back, and another on the opposite side of my back.  I just thought I'd gotten more scratches than I'd noticed at first.  But by the end of the day, I was tired, achy and feeling plain crappy.  I figured it was sinus stuff, so I picked up a few of my comfort foods and prepared to get m laundry done for the next day.  But when I took my shirt off to out it in the washing machine, I noticed a several more bumps all across my stomach and chest.  And they weren't just bumps...  They looked...watery.  Like they could pop.  (sorry if this is sickening anyone). So I sent my girlfriend a text, joking, "Ha!  I think I have chickenpox!". She didn't think it was so funny, and immediately found me a doctor to visit.  By the time I got to the doctor, I was shivering and shaky, and I was about 100 degrees.

At the doctor, the nurses seemed to be trying to keep me calm by asking me all sorts of questions about where I was from, and complimenting me on my Japanese ability.  My girlfriend just smiled, and started picking on me for catching chickenpox.  Then we got to see the doctor...and...I'm thinking Japanese doctors intentionally put on an air of "I have no idea what I'm doing!" to put the patient at ease.  This migh work on Japanese patients, but it only made me trust him less, especially with him waving all sorts of instruments around.  I just...don't trust doctors when they have something in their hands.  Besides, most of this "examination" was spent with him lifting up my shirt, looking at the bumps, mumbling, "Hmmm...maybe chickenpox...", and then leaning back in his chair to think about it.  He did this at least three times.  Then he took my blood pressure, my temperature, and my respiratory something, looked at the bumps again, drew a rough sketch of my torso and where the bumps were, looked at them again, and said, "Let's give you some medicine!". For good measure, my girlfriend asked for a doctor's note so that my company would legally have to pay me for my days missed (probably useless).  One hundred and twenty bucks later, I had medicine, a note, and was well on my way to 101 degrees.  Which makes me much would the medicine have cost without insurance?  Anyway, we stopped by the grocery store to get me some food, then I went to the gas station, and then I went to a convenience store to fax the note to my company and give them a call.  Lucky for me, the guy in front of me was apparently trying to fax a novel to his best friend or something.  Twenty minutes of shivering later, I was at home, taking medicine and trying to eat food my stomach obviously didn't want, all so I could take the medicine they gave me.  

Medicine is a tricky thing.  That whole before meals, after meals, before bed, only with water thing can trip you up.  On top of that you got your side effects and what not, which is enough to scare anyone with any common sense.  I remember when all the crazy medications started coming out, the ones were half of the commercial was some guy listing all the side effects and disclaimers as quickly as he could. The free-spirit style commercials were really popular then.  People riding roller coasters and frolicking in the park despite whatever ailment or infection was currently nesting in their bodies.  Oh, we all made jokes about it.  I think the most humorous one was herpes.  I'm not entirely sure why everyone thought that one was funny.  Maybe it was the name.  Herpes.  It just sounds...trivial.  And you know young folk.  Always making jokes about things they don't quite understand to hide their own ignorance of it.  I remember, in college, an acquaintance of mine had taken some inspiration from Big Boi's Purple Ribbon All-Stars, and other, less savory slang.  And so from the slogan, "I got that purp", he struck genius with the term "got that herp".  Oh, we all laughed at that one.  It was timely, witty wordplay that allowed us to laugh off our anxieties about the veritable hurricane of STDs and other diseases swirling around us in the college environment.  The administration made sure to remind us of the dangers every day, and those silly medicine commercials reminded us every night.  So it's only natural that the name of a few of those medicines stuck in my head.

So when I got my medicine, and saw the name "Valtrex" written on it, it triggered something in my memory, but I wasn't sure exactly what was going on.  I fought down some food and swallowed those two rather large pills, and stared at the name again.  Valtrex.  I miss the days when you had to hold something in your brain for a long time in order to look it up later, but...this is the google age, and I immediately searched for it.  And alas..........herpes medication.  Suddenly I remembered all those free spirit commercials.  The frolicking.  The swings.  Bowling.  And then, I could hear Matt's voice saying, "You got that herp."

Now, we all know by now that herpes has MANY forms.  Cold sores, shingles, chickenpox, and the not so laughable genital herpes.  So it should be obvious that one type of medicine would be designed to attack all forms of herpes.  ...Doesn't make it any more fun to take!  Seriously?  Herpes medication?  Man...  But I took it.  For a week straight, I took it three times a day, even though it gave me headaches and probably increased my fever.  I took it.

The first night was hellish.  My fever hit 102, and the sleep I got shouldn't even be called sleep.  On the second day, I was up to 103, chugging sports drinks and struggling to stand.  On third day, I was at 104, and thought I was gonna have to be hospitalized.  My neck was stiff, my back was killing me, my head was splitting and I couldn't really maintain any train of thought.  My girlfriend had been bringing daily supplies of food, sports drinks and water, but I couldn't eat much.  Then, in my delirium, my eyes caught a box in my drawer that I thought I'd thrown out long ago.  The text on it was written entirely in Japanese, but somehow, my eyes focused on one character: 熱.  That's the character for fever.  It was a box of ibuprofen!  Totally forgot I had it!  Now...I probably should've checked if there were any crazy interactions between ibuprofen and Valtrex, but I think my brain already considered me dead, so we just took out some pills and chugged them down with some water.  Suddenly, my thoughts were clearing, and my temperature was dropping steadily.  Before I knew it, I was at my normal 98.2.  And I was starving!  My girlfriend scolded me later for mixing meds without checking with the doctor first, but it was all OK later.  We called and checked, and the doctor said it was cool.

And that's pretty much how it went for the next week.  I couldn't go to work.  I couldn't leave the house.  I just sat at home, watched my endless store of movies and TV, and tried to keep my fever down.  At some point, one of the old ladies in my Wednesday class decided to start bringing me food as well, which meant I had a grandmother AND a girlfriend dropping off supplies.  Needless to say, I didn't finish everything.  Felt horrible about that...  Also, it looks like I gotta make up the days I missed at work, but that's not so bad. I mean, my schools were kinda enough not to get a substitute, who would've gotten the pay for those day instead of me.  Yeah...I like these people.

All in all, I'd say it was a pretty good experience!  My brain almost boiled, but...hey!  That happens, right? And I got that horrible disease out of the way...for the second time.  Admittedly, my first time around was kinda weak, but still.  Honestly, it was like a long, forced vacation. Almost like my body telling me to just stop everything.

Looks like it's back to work on Tuesday.  Wish me luck!


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Why does Friday hurt so much? Ah, because I forgot my jacket.

There's a point at which you're no longer the foreigner in Japan, and they kinda expect you to start thinking for yourself.  Today, it looks like I've reached that point.  Well...maybe.  I reached that point a long time ago.  But today, I came to school and it turns out that the PTA was coming for one of their many visits.  No one told me.  No one mentioned that I would be introduced to the PTA.  And no one bothered to inform me that I'd need to wear the full suit.  So when I rolled up to school and saw everyone in full suits, I thought, 'Great, now I get to look like the slacker.'. So, I sat at my desk while people asked me why I didn't have my suit, and I explained that no one told me what was going on, and...then I looked on my desk and saw the piece of paper my teacher had handed me on Monday, and on that sheet of paper, tucked away in a corner it said that the PTA would be visiting.  Even so, that still doesn't necessarily have anything to do with me.  The PTA comes on lots of days that have absolutely nothing to do with me.  And I'm never alerted to them or expected to do anything about them.  Nevertheless, I felt kinda crappy about not having my jacket today.  

But that's not the main reason I feel crappy.

The changing seasons destroy me every year, and spring is the worst.  Last year, it felt like my teeth were trying to pull themselves out of my skull, and this year, it's like someone filled my sinuses with broken glass.  Every breath makes the shards move.  My chest feels like someone's just put it in a vice, and is juuuust starting to crank things up.  A little tight, but I know it'll get worse.  And, ya know, you should look forward to the little things in life, right?  Right.

As for what happened at school today?  Same stuff.  Book's too tough, teaches too timid/stubborn, and students too unaware of consequences.  I say now, though most people will not understand, Japan is too safe and secure.  To easy to get a job and a pension, too easy to get insurance, and too easy to do whatever you want without losing your life.  In Japan, bad things only happen out of chance.  But then, so do good things.  Basically, do whatever you want, the country will find a place for you when you come to your senses.  And hey, maybe you'll get lucky along the way.  Hard work only results in a long life of stress and increased responsibilities, but those responsibilities are an honor.

I'm ranting.  Let me stop.

Here's lunch.  Chicken curry, rice, "Italian salad", milk and yogurt.  This is the kind of lunch that gets kids super amped.  Take a look!

That's enough for today.  I feel...not so awesome.

Be good, people.